Last June when I resigned from the head coaching position at the high school where I had previously taught, I honestly thought that I would have a more redirected spring this year - one that included watching my son play some ball, going to some Twins games, finishing the first year of my masters program, and generally enjoying being a stay-at-home dad. While most of that is true, I am also very happy to be ... surprise! surprise! ... coaching baseball.
This week, I took part in my first practice as an 'official' coach of my son's baseball team. After my masters chat session on Monday, we ventured to the park and helped about fifteen (15) eight-year-olds work on some very important mechanics. After the practice, I talked to my son about some things. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish this season, to which he replied, "I want to improve my left-handed swing."
This was interesting, because I was thinking more general - like 'have fun', 'win', and 'get better.' But, I encouraged his desire and we eventually talked about my 'general' ideas. It was surprising to hear him ask whether 'they' would allow us to think winning was important in this league (partially because there are no scoreboards at the fields where we practiced; partially because, besides the two games at the end of last year, the coaches wouldn't tell the players the score). I did affirm for him that winning is important - about on the same level as having fun, and getting better.
That was Monday. On Tuesday, I got to help out with B-squad practice with the local high school team (not my old school). It's been nice to be able to help out there for two days each week. I'm really glad the varsity head coach called me up and asked me to help out. It was definitely an interesting juxtaposition this week though - 8-yr-olds on Monday, 8th/9th/10th graders on Tuesday. So, I end up helping out with two teams this spring - my sons, and the local high school B-squad.
I thought I would just give it up and take a year off. Silly me. That doesn't happen when you ARE a coach.
My son summed it up pretty well after practice on Monday. I asked him why he doesn't always like practicing/playing baseball with his 'friends.' His response included the fact that they try to get him to goof around, and it's hard to tell them no and not goof around when it's his buddies. He said (and I am not kidding, this is his exact quote):
"For them, it's a game; it's just about playing and having fun. For me, baseball is life."